Meet USAAF Corporal (grade 5) Willard L. Sample. I certainly can see why Mom kept the pictures, and I'm very glad she did. The thing that prompts this post, though, is a segment that aired on 60 Minutes about the Bent Prop project and their discovery of a lot of downed WWII planes around Palau.
A couple years back I went through Mom's pictures from this gent and some of them showed aircraft where the tail numbers were discernible and I decided to do some online research to find out what became of those planes. None of those tail numbers were on the military tail number database and it was concluded that they were lost in battle or something. So yeah--I just got rather interested in the Bent Prop project, just now.
Mom passed away quite some time ago, and these pictures are part of her personal effects that wound up with me. As it turns out, Willie passed away some years after Mom did, just two years prior to my attempt to look up those tail numbers. So there ya go--this post is to do the usual Memorial Day tribute, but also to raise a toast to the Bent Prop project as well.
Somebody in Willie's unit had a camera, and sent back gems like this next one, but all I know about it is that it's in the Pacific theatre somewhere. Palau? Japan? Or...? Don't know the story behind it but I'd love to find out what it is.
Next is from somewhere in Europe. This man got around.
There was more information written on the back of the next photo...
...and I quote...
H. C. Ward - cpl.
V. Green - t/Sgt
Hibbord - s/Sgt.
G. Gibson Sgt
L. Surretsky P F.C.
I am taking picture
I tried looking up variations on the number that appears on the plane, but with no results.
It's Larry Surretsky in the next pic, and two of the tail numbers I tried to look up come from that.
Obvious: tail number 17340. The next tail number produced no definitive results either...
Best pic of the lot is next, and I'll bet you can guess why, ha--
Next--not exactly a double date at a St. Louis tavern, but that is Willie, girlfriend, girlfriend's sister and sister's beau...and friends. Sister is the gal peeking out from behind.
The gal in the back looked like this:
UPDATE: I'm deeply indebted to the friend who chimed in and said that this ship is the USS Hanover.
Memorial Day Monday UPDATE: Went to the ceremony at Enid's Woodring Airport this morning and, not surprisingly, ran into Richard. He had his own story to tell, as he did the other times I've run into him around town, but THIS time I was able to catch it on video, with permission to post it and everything. This blog stands at sharp attention, Richard, to salute you!
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